Tag Archives: cholesterol lowering

Invigorate and Protect with Cordyceps

When I added cordyceps to my morning supplements, I noticed a substantial increase in my energy levels. Other people have shared with me that taking cordyceps improved their endurance while exercising.  These experiences made me curious to investigate this medicinal mushroom further. Cordyceps falls in the category of traditional herbs known as adaptogens that increase stamina and help the body compensate for excess stress. While the only study showing it to reduce the stress response was done in rats, several human studies support the claims about endurance. During periods of exertion, cordyceps has been shown to increase the dilation of the aorta, the largest artery in the body, thereby providing improved blood flow to active muscles. In one study, 72% of long distance runners observed improved performance when using cordyceps. Another study demonstrated that older participants could work out longer before starting to build up lactic acid, a compound that contributes to muscle soreness.

Cordyceps is traditionally known as an anti-aging and rejuvenating herb. I think this claim is well supported by a multitude of research showing how it can protect our bodies from many different types of damage. Cordyceps contains antioxidant compounds that protect our cells from damaging free radicals. Several different compounds in cordyceps also show potential anti-tumor properties. Cordyceps even helps defend us against some viruses while simultaneously stimulating the immune system. Cordyceps benefits the heart by helping to reduce cholesterol and the oxidation of cholesterol, in turn reducing the deposition of cholesterol onto artery walls, which is what happens in atherosclerosis. Cordyceps was also shown to prevent damage to the kidneys from certain toxic substances. Finally, cordyceps has been traditionally regarded as a sexual tonic and libido enhancer. This claim is supported by research that shows that cordyceps can help modulate hormone production as well as improve blood flow and energy.


Medicinal Mushrooms

I have some oyster mushroom logs on my land, and was delighted to recently find that the combination of fall rains and warm days had led to a good harvest this year. I was also delighted to learn that in addition to being a gourmet treat, oyster mushrooms share many of the benefits of the other medicinal mushrooms. Many mushrooms like shiitake, maitake, and reishi are known for their use in helping with cancer prevention and enhancing the immune system. These are in fact some of the most common attributes of medicinal mushrooms. Their immune enhancing capacity is due to the special polysaccharides found in their cell walls such as beta glucan. Most mushrooms have these polysaccharides, but the type and amount varies between the different varieties.

In addition to the immune benefits, different species of mushrooms have other unique ways they shine. It is fairly common for mushrooms to contain antimicrobial compounds. Some species like reishi and turkey tail even inhibit the growth of yeast such as candida. These mushrooms and several others are also showing benefit in fighting viral infections. The oyster mushrooms I enjoyed are reported to have these antiviral properties and cholesterol-lowering benefits along with other species including maitake. Unique compounds have been isolated from lion’s mane mushrooms that may help with re-growth of nerves and are being considered for use with many neurological issues like Alzheimer’s.

Fiber For Appetite Control

Weight loss fads come and go. Currently, a fiber called glucomannan from konjac root is popular for appetite reduction to help people reach their weight goals. Since many Americans aren’t getting enough fiber in their diet, I often encourage this approach. Fiber is a nondigestible carbohydrate and is divided into two categories: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers like glucomannan swell up in the presence of water, up to seven times their original volume. Many people are taking soluble fibers before meals to help them stick to more modest portions of food. This expansion of fiber can increase the feeling of satiety, which partially comes from the volume of food in the stomach. Fiber also can slow the absorption of sugar. This is why complex carbohydrates that are rich in fiber are better for blood sugar control than simple carbohydrates. Better blood sugar control is also helpful for some people in reaching their weight goals.

Fiber has many health benefits beyond helping reduce appetite. Fiber aids colon function by promoting healthy bowel movements and providing food for the beneficial bacteria of the gut. These bacteria in turn make nutrients that the cells of the colon use for energy production. Fiber can modestly reduce the absorption of fats from our diet. This slightly diminishes our calorie intake and can help improve cholesterol levels. Increased fiber intake has also been correlated with lower rates of cancer, even breast cancer. It is recommended that we get between 21 to 38 grams of fiber daily depending on our age and gender. Beans, vegetables, and fruits are all great sources of fiber, so eat a diet that emphasizes these foods. But increase your fiber intake slowly. Since bacteria digest some of these fibers for us, a sudden increase in fiber can cause gas and intestinal discomfort.